us and them

October 31st, 2016

Last week I read David Nicholl’s ‘Us,’ he also wrote ‘One Day,’ which I really loved, and Aileen said it was almost as good. It was a really good read and I truly enjoyed it. It was from the perspective of a man, a scientist, who fell in love with an artist, and it was their story of being married and their life together. It started with her telling him, after 20 years of marriage, that she was thinking about leaving him, as their son was preparing to go off to college and right before they were to take a trip around Europe together as a family. He took the trip as a chance to try to save their marriage and their family. It didn’t exactly turn out as planned, as few things do in life, and the characters were very intriguing and complex and the story was written very well. I enjoyed that it spoke a lot about art and museums and cities around Europe, and although I didn’t identify with one specific character, per say, there were many little things I did identify with, like his son who wanted to cart around his accoustic guitar, or the girl his son met that was just traveling Europe alone being a free spirit, and his observations about certain cities or peoples he met along the way were in line with some of my thoughts, too. (Like the Danish woman he met that had a startling good grasp on English and our idioms, similar to how I felt about the Finnish group I had met, (Scandanavians speak really good English)).

It was an interesting look at marriage and the idea of building a life with someone, and that that may not mean growing old with someone. He was very much looking forward to growing old with his wife, but his wife’s response to that was more like, ew, why would you want that. I do want to get married some day, and look foward to that commitment and partnership, and I have always thought that it comes with a lifelong commitment, but as I’ve noticed, that’s not always the case. I think its super lucky and great to find that one person that you can commit your life to, but its also really rare. Not everyone can marry their high school sweetheart and be happy together forever, or find the Barack to their Michelle; it can happen, but more often than not it seems that life is not that easy. It’s difficult to grow and change together, especially today in our rapidly changing world, and even more so when you add children to the mix. Sometimes the people in our life are with us only for some chapters of our story.

Last night I saw Captain Fantastic, and it was a great film that explored living off the grid in the jungle and away from capitalist society and expectations. I was immediately swept into this idea of living life outside the norm, while still appreciating education, health, and happiness of a family unit. It was a very honest film, didn’t skirt around any issues, but addressed them head on. And also dealt with building a life and a family with another person whom you love dearly, but that it may not turn out how you expect or plan.

‘Us’ had a more conventional and traditional approach to looking for happiness, having a job, living in city, moving to the suburbs, taking vacations, etc, and made me think about whether I want something like that stability, albeit a bit mundane. Captain Fantastic had an extremely opposite approach, obviously. And the film did a good job at making you apart of the story, so in a sense you were learning as the characters were, at least I was, so even though my immediate thoughts were, dang, where’s my captain fantastic who I can live off the grid with, I learned by the end that may not be exactly what I want, either, and extremes are great in the idea of them, but in actuality, we could benefit from being a bit more balanced in the devotion to our convictions.

Overall, they had pretty different messages, but one they had in common is to make a commitment, try your best, and if it doesn’t work out, its okay. Roll with the punches and figure something else out. As long as you’re doing your best to be a good human and putting forward your best intentions, you will be okay. Live with love.